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Bowel Cancer Awareness Week

It’s the most common cancer in the country and during Beat Bowel Cancer Aotearoa’s awareness week, which runs June 6-12, New Zealanders are being told, “don’t sit on your symptoms”. MiNDFOOD reports.

Despite the disease being detectable and treatable in many cases, more than 100 New Zealanders die each month from bowel cancer.

Twenty-nine-year-old Claire Wilson is currently under going treatment for bowel cancer after being diagnosed with the disease in October 2010.

Despite suffering pain, bouts of diarrhoea and being diagnosed with anaemia, Wilson ignored advice to have a colonoscopy. It wasn’t until the pain worsened that she was eventually diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer, which had spread to her liver, lymphatic system and lungs.

By telling her story, Wilson hopes she will encourage others suffering symptoms to go to the doctor. “I hope my story highlights the symptoms of bowel cancer so other families and communities may avoid the painful journey I am currently undergoing,” she says. “Despite my age, the symptoms I experienced were text book. I am going to die from a potentially treatable cancer.”

She says bowel cancer doesn’t receive the attention it deserves “considering it kills three times more people yearly than the national average road toll and its mortality rate is only surpassed, barely, by lung cancer”.

Despite her diagnosis, Wilson has just married the man of her dreams in Arrowtown and is planning to celebrate her 30th birthday with a party in Wellington.

UNDERSTANDING THE SYMPTOMS

According to Beat Bowel Cancer Aotearoa, the earlier bowel cancer is caught the easier it is to treat – as many as 75 per cent of cases can be cured if caught early enough.

See your GP if you suffer from:

- Severe abdominal pain

- Rectal bleeding

- Change in bowel habits

- Weight loss and tiredness

- Any lumps or mass in your stomach

For more information, visit beatbowelcancer.org.nz. To follow Claire’s journey, visit chemoheavyhardcore.wordpress.com.

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